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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

VINE VOICEon 11 April 2009
An interesting little item this. It's a graphic novel reprint of a limited series which was originally published as a standalone set of comic books. But now, it seems, it is the prelude to something else, an even bigger story. Yes, that's right, even bigger than the Second Coming in modern-day America.Well, you can't fault Millar's ambition. And after the Ultimates, the Authority and the rest- you know, this boy might just deliver the goods.

But what do we have here? Actually, it's rather lovely. A subtle and humane story with engaging and interesting characters, beautifully drawn in that deceptively-simple, clean style of Gross. Thought-provoking and fascinating, it bears multiple rereadings and will engage your mind and your heart, Highly recommended. And once you read the ending, you will reread the book to see if it all hangs together. Which it does, actually. In fact, this is a cracking piece of work, and I can't wait for the follow up. Buy it!
One caveat- there was a rather shocking finale which Millar himself has cut out of this version, and been roundly castigated for it. Not by me. I think it was exactly the right decision. The earlier version had real shock value- but this ending is more in keeping with the overall tone of the story, and is fitting. As Millar gets better and better, he becomes more restrained and subtler. If you don't agree, go read 'the Unfunnies', Millar's worst ever piece of work. He's much better than that. As someone who loved his Swamp Thing run, I think he's a cracking writer. And the best is yet to come. Maybe in volume two of this.....?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 October 2011
Jodie Christianson (the name says it all!) is a regular underachieving kid who bunks off school to spend time with his friends climbing trees and hanging about in the woods where they find the odd jazz mag. During one of those days a lorry skids off a bridge and Jodie is seemingly crushed beneath the wreckage, but he amazes all who witness the carnage by walking out completely unscathed. His academic performance suddenly surpasses that of all his peers (including the teachers) and he learns that his parents have never had sex - there's only one (super)natural conclusion....

This is an interesting 'what if?' story which initially looks as though it is exploring how modern society would react to a second coming of Christ, but when it fails to be reported in the media you realise that this was something expected, an event which has been prepared for - there's a contingency plan in place and the plot thickens.

Millar usually manages to ground his characters in reality and it allows you to connect with them, American Jesus is no exception and even though Jodie can perform miracles, he still feels very much like the sort of kid who could have been at your school. This is quite a short volume but the main characters have depth and don't feel contrived for the convenience of the story. The bitter priest who is questioning his faith is handled well and brings a gritty element to the plot, his background provides him with a reason to have lost faith - and the arrival of a new Messiah is more of a reminder of what is wrong with the world rather than a relief. The first part of American Jesus covers the sort of events you'd expect but there are darker moments lurking beneath the main story and these build to a rather nice twist at the end. The story doesn't conclude in this book - I'd probably give it 5 stars if it did (and the same quality was maintained), you are left dangling and as yet there isn't a second part though I've heard the plan is for this to form the first part of a trilogy (and perhaps a film too).

The artwork here often looks quite basic, but then you are blown away by an incredibly detailed frame. Watercolours bring it all to life and the overall look is one of subtlety, indeed this is seen as one of Millar's more subtle stories so the graphic reflects that well.

In a nutshell: Fiction which covers religious themes often appeal to a small audience or repel those of differing views, this doesn't take any moral high ground or force any particular belief, there's a neutrality to it and as a non-believer this is a great story of the supernatural. Just as a major plotline is revealed the book ends - it's a very effective cliff-hanger though - I want to know how this continues.
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on 12 March 2014
What would the second coming of Christ be like in today’s world? It’s by no means an original idea but a potent one that Mark Millar develops pretty well with artist Peter Gross in American Jesus.

A slacker kid called Jodie gets hit by a truck and miraculously survives. But this is the first of many changes for Jodie as his personality quickly changes from under-achieving waster to becoming enormously intelligent and wise, healing the sick, turning water into wine, and even bringing the dead back to life. Is he the second coming of Jesus?!

It may not be the most original concept but Millar does a fine job of making it interesting especially as writing teenagers is his strong suit. The scenes with Jodie and his friends read fine and seeing Jodie’s powers develop was fun despite its predictability. His grown-up characters on the other hand are pretty much ciphers, especially Jodie’s parents who’re just blanks (and how about their on-the-nose surname, Christianson?!). Jodie’s teacher though is just plain ridiculous, screaming swear words at him when he scores high in a test – come on, he’d be fired if he did that!

Unfortunately, Peter Gross’ art just didn’t do it for me. The pages looked all washed out, the figures were unremarkable and dull, and, considering the calibre of artists Millar usually works with, Gross is definitely among his least impressive collaborators.

This first book - coming in at a mere 3 issues – is all setup for the next book which looks to take the original premise and go in a completely different direction. The ending was definitely unexpected and so good that I’m on board to read the next volume but since the third issue ended 10 years ago it doesn’t look like Volume 2 will be coming out anytime soon. American Jesus is definitely worth a read though and you could imagine the ending as a standalone, Twilight Zone-esque shocker.
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on 14 May 2013
The idea of Mark Millar doing a comic about Jesus might have every priest running for the hills but this really isn't what you would expect. Here is a sincere and open look at the teachings of Christianity and how they relate to our world of today. It is also a quiet meditation on childhood and nostalgia that really rewards the indulgent reader.

The art is superb with a plain and simple charm, perfect for its child protagonist. All the characters are distinct and there is real life in this deliberately two-dimensional style. The colouring is also wonderfully appropriate with a light and gentle touch.

There is an insightful interview with the author and artist, two `afterwords' by members of the cloth and script and art pages with brief commentary. This is a superb read all the way through but the ending is just off the scale brilliant. A classic Double Thumbs Up!
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on 9 March 2011
It's been a while since I read this, but it's a great little story. It's not over the top like some of Millar's more recent stuff and instead is a subtle and nicely realised idea that reflects upon the author's own personal out look on Christianity (Millar is of Catholic background), but should in no way alienate those readers who aren't religious or offend those who are.
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on 1 June 2009
I'm not sure if this is a convincing take on the second coming and how a small town would react to a Jesus-like figure emerging in their midst. The story is interesting and the artwork faultless but i'm not sure if comic-books (sorry, graphic novels) are the right place for something of such complexity and depth. I understand the need for ellipsis and the shortage of space of the medium, but the pace is too quick and many of the scenario's are unbelievable. What I'm saying, I think, is that it lacks a sense of realism and I found it hard to suspend my disbelief for many of the conceits of the narrative. I was also disappointed that the 'new' Jesus' 'path' follows that of the original Jesus, except that the names have been changed as an 'update'. I understand that people need 'signs' to show them that this is Jesus reincarnate but I would have liked something bolder that imagined a new set of miracles and a different set of circumstances under which they are performed.

Perhaps all my gripes will be answered in Book 2 as Jodie comes to terms with Global media and the reactions of hyper-capitalism to 'faith' rather than the false idols of consumption (i'm an athiest, by the way!)

I know this sounds as if I don't like it but I will be buying Book 2! Well worth the money!

(p.s. Buy 'Red Son'. It's excellent!)
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on 22 May 2013
A short story out of Millar's mind, you will enjoy it at the end, and always a pleasure to read different things that leaves you with a little smile. Thank you Millar and keep it up.
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on 17 March 2016
Written in the still of an old 80s mainstream comic, this I left was a little weak on the story and the art.
I'm glad I didn't spent too much on it, it's an OK read but not one that I'd recommend to others.
Given how careful I am with graphic novels I think the most honest review I could give is that I'd actually lend this one to friends.
There's a twist in the story that I'll not spoil but it happens so late in the book that I felt it should have been kept for follow up volumes. For me the story was quite slow and the late twist was a TV episode style, tune in next week.
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on 30 September 2014
I knew nothing about this story, and I thought it was fantastic.
Without going into details, and giving away spoilers; It starts off like stand by me, and then develops into a pubescent teen who also has to deal with the fact that he may very well be the second coming of Christ himself.

Read it.

The only thing I will say is that it seems to be leading up to something else. Something that hasn't happened yet.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 February 2014
I thought this was a good read but turned out to be a little predictable in the finish, I dont know if this is the complete story or if further volumes will follow, the cliffhanger finish works fine but I did think from reading interviews with the author that he was prepared to write and have illustrated something much more conclusive. While having criticised the final installment of the Omen films, The Final Battle, I sort of was left thinking that the book had succeeded in producing something which was very close to that mark, pretty close to the Omen entirely to be honest.

The book has an introduction by Shaun Pegg, of Shawn of the Dead fame, and two afterwords by a Dublin Franciscan and another religious figure, these are pretty good and likely to interest any purely secular readers as much as any more religiously interested or inclined readers, there is then a short piece about the illustration of the book featuring some preliminary sketches and the stock artist and author bios which mention other works by them, which is handing if you use these sorts of things as a direction on what to read next possibly.

The book itself is respectful of the subject matter without attempting anything sacrosanct or sanctimonious, the story features small town life in America and some of the drama of growing up, which I liked a lot, the protagonist and his friends are very human and their responses to developments are very sympathetic. The book features miracles as they may occur in the present age and who they would be viewed by a skeptical, or you could say "post-Christian" public, that is to say kids and adults who have a knowledge of miracles in the bible, this was interesting because it made me think about how literary sources such as this really do colour peoples expectations and it made me wonder about how miracles would have appeared when those expectations did not exist at all. There are other influences operating too, comics principally, and it was amusing to see the conclusions drawn as a result when someone with that influence manages to begin to display unusual or super-natural powers and knowledge.

From the beginning which features the past, with narrator boxes, the action moves back and forward to the present and it clear that the protagonist is telling his company in the present his own "origin story" as events develop in the present, there is little or no information about that, besides someone getting ready to go take a flight somewhere but perhaps that could feature in another book in the series.

The afterwords are pretty good and round of the entire work the very best, I definitely would not have enjoyed it as much had I not had them to read, especially one of them which features some quotes from scripture which I was familiar with and thinking about from the beginning of the book and probably did change the ending for me. I would recommend this book to anyone, relgiiously minded or not, fans of comics or not particularly, it was a page turner but I also pretty interested in its themes too, the nearest possible comparative story that I can think of is Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's collaboration Good Omens, which is itself a brilliant book along similar lines, in its own ways emphasising the human over any supernatural "great game" between God and Satan (it remains to be seen but I think Gaiman and Pratchett's twist on this theme could be much, much less orthodox than Gross' own).
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